There have been a few teams reportedly interested in pursuing the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in J.R. Smith, but any offer to pry him away from the Knicks would have to come at a fairly high price.
New York can only offer Smith a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $25 million under their current cap situation, and with players like J.J. Redick and Kevin Martin already receiving more than that with their new teams, Smith figures to be in line for a bigger payday if he chooses to go out and get it.
The team that may step up first to offer that is the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks, who have gutted their team and have plenty of cap space, are shaping up as the leading suitor for J.R. Smith.
But if Smith leaves the Knicks to get more bucks in Milwaukee, he will find himself in a rebuilding program. That’s the decision the Freehold, N.J., native, has to make.
Take less to stay with the hometown Knicks, who can offer a four-year, roughly $25 million contract — which comes to $6.25 million a season after yearly raises — or follow the “green’’ jerseys of Milwaukee or another under-the-cap club willing to make a four-year commitment. The market value is being set for him to get an offer of at least $7 million per year.
Smith has enjoyed playing in New York, perhaps even a bit too much at times. Milwaukee isn’t close in terms of the activities it can provide outside of basketball, so it’s likely that the Bucks would have to overpay significantly to get Smith to consider leaving a good team in a great city for whatever Milwaukee’s franchise has to offer.
A deal starting at what Monta Ellis turned down to stay with the Bucks — $36 million over three years — just might do the trick.